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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Treatment continued...

If you have severe pulmonary hypertension, your doctor may prescribe medications called calcium channel blockers. These medicines lower blood pressure in the lungs and the rest of the body.

If calcium channel blockers aren’t enough, your doctor may refer you to a specialized treatment center. You may need more targeted therapies that can open up your narrowed blood vessels. They may be pills, medicines you breathe in, or drugs that are given through an IV. Options include:

  • Pills: Adcirca, Adempas, Letairis, Opsumit, Revatio, Staxyn, Tracleer, Tyvaso
  • Inhalers: Tyvaso, Ventavis
  • IV drugs: Flolan, Revatio, Tyvaso

In more severe cases, or if medicines don't help, your doctor may recommend a lung transplant or a procedure called atrial septostomy. A surgeon creates an opening between the right and left sides of the heart. This surgery can have serious side effects.

Taking Care of Yourself

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to stay active, even if you have shortness of breath. Regular exercise, like taking a walk, will help you breathe better and live better. Talk to your doctor first to find out what kind of exercise is best for you, and how much you should do. Some people may need to use oxygen when they exercise.

Get plenty of rest, too. Pulmonary hypertension makes you tired, so get a good night's sleep and take naps when you need to.

Just like anyone else, it's good for you to eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. That's important for your overall health.

What to Expect

A lot depends on what's causing your pulmonary hypertension. Treating an underlying condition will help you feel better. There's no cure for pulmonary hypertension, but the earlier it's diagnosed, the easier it is to live with.

If you have idiopathic pulmonary hypertension -- the kind where doctors can't find a cause -- your symptoms will get worse over time. But treatment can slow down the progress of the disease and help you live longer.

Remember that each person is different, and there are good treatments available. Work with your doctor to find what's right for you.

Where to Find More Information

The Pulmonary Hypertension Association offers in-depth information on everything from medications to tips on making daily tasks easier. It also has an active online support community.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on June 25, 2014
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